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Shippers Council Donates Protective Gears, Offers Bus Services To Customs Agents, Others

Hassan Bello

 

By Our Reporter

The Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hassan Bello has called for synergy among Seaport users and agencies as part of measures to sustain operations and support the Federal Government efforts to contain spread of Coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on Tuesday, NSC also offered to provide bus services for customs agents who will be clearing their goods at the ports during this period of restrictions in Lagos as announced by the federal government to check the spread of coronavirus.

Ports services are among the essential services which are exempted from the restriction announced by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The statement explained that the bus services to be provided by the NSC will be available at four different locations in Lagos for agents who will be conveyed to the ports to carry out their operations.

The four locations were identified as Festac (by Apple junction); Okokomaiko (at Alakija under bridge); Surulere (by National Stadium); Oshodi (at Charity bus stop) and Ikeja(at Ikeja along bus stop).

The buses according to the statement will leave the locations at 8am with effect from 1st April, 2020.

According to the statement, the provision of the buses was mainly to ease movement of accredited freight forwarders who have business to conduct at the ports and other port users.

The Council also donated protective gears for port users worth N5m to be distributed to relevant field and operational staff.

In addition, the Council also donated the sum of N5,000,000.00 to be used collectively in the fight against Covid-19 in Lagos and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

In the statement, the Council assured importers and customs agents that it was currently discussing with service providers on the issue of getting waiver on demurrage for them.

Part of the statement reads: “This present situation has indeed caused unimaginable disruption of the logistics supply chain. Users and providers of services are seemingly unable to carry out their obligations for reasons beyond their control.

“Nigeria Shippers’ Council, as Port Economic Regulator and an arbiter, is conscious of the fact that obligations, responsibilities, duties and rights may have been frustrated. Therefore, Nigerian Shippers’ Council is discussing with all parties so that a balanced solution can be achieved especially the issue of demurrage and incentives to facilitate the clearance of goods from the ports”.

According to the Council, all government agencies in the ports are exempted from the restriction imposed in Lagos, and will therefore maintain skeletal services.

The statement from the Council reads:

“In that regard and to ensure uninterrupted supply of crucial commodities, the following services shall remain open during this period, albeit with minimal operations to enable the ports function, while access will be restricted and closely monitored. The agencies/organizations/services exempted are:

  1. Nigeria Customs Service;
  2. Nigerian Ports Authority;
  3. Nigerian Shippers’ Council;
  4. Nigerian Railway Corporation; (Freight services)
  5. National Inland Waterways Authority;
  6. Port Health Services;
  7. Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency;
  8. National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control;
  9. Standards Organisation of Nigeria;
  10. National Environmental Standards and Regulation Enforcement Agency;
  11. All Seaport Terminal Operators;
  12. Shipping Lines/Agencies;
  13. Dock Workers;
  14. Stevedores;
  15. Freight Forwarding Services;
  16. Cargo De-consolidators;
  17. Barge Operators;
  18. Marine and Port Police;
  19. Cargo Truck Drivers;
  20. Banks; and
  21. Any other service user or provider at the ports.

Noting that it has received complaints that banks were not offering services with respect to port operations, the Council said it has drawn the attention of the financial institutions to the Notice by the Federal Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Nigeria to the fact that they are to operate skeletal services.

According to the Council, “Nigerian Shippers’ Council has been inundated with complaints that banks are not offering services with respect to port operations. This, without doubt, hampers cargo clearance from the ports. The attention of the banks is, therefore, drawn to the Notice by the Federal Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Nigeria, which allows operations in the financial system. We note that port operations as indicated by the President are essential and critical services”

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